This Week at State: December 6, 2019

11 minutes read time
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo arrives in Rabat, Morocco, on December 5, 2019.

This Week at State: December 6, 2019

Did you miss key foreign policy developments this week? Each week, DipNote recaps the latest U.S. Department of State highlights spanning a wide range of global issues, events, and initiatives in one blog post.

Here are the key moments from This Week at State:

Secretary Pompeo Comments on the Passing of Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone

On November 29, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo extended condolences to the family of former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and the people of Japan following his passing.

On the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva

In a November 30 press statement, Spokesperson Ortagus conveys the United States continued support to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, and the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, in their efforts to facilitate the work of the Syria Constitutional Committee. 

The International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Chemical Warfare

In a December 1 press statement in recognition of the Internation al Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Chemical Warfare, Spokesperson  Ortagus said, “The use of chemical weapons has caused some of the most horrific deaths and injuries in modern history. We must stand in solidarity to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons by preserving the global norm against such use; and we must be ready to hold accountable those who choose to use chemical weapons.” 

Secretary Pompeo Comments on the New European Union Leadership Assumption of Office

On December 1, Secretary Pompeo congratulated European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, High Representative Josep Borrell, the new College of European Commissioners, and European Council President Charles Michel as they assumed office.

Secretary Pompeo Travels to Kentucky, United Kingdom, Portugal, and Morocco, December 1-5, 2019

On December 1-2, Secretary Pompeo traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, December 1-2, where he delivered a speech on “Diplomatic Realism, Restraint, and Respect in Latin America” at the University of Louisville as part of the McConnell Center’s Distinguished Speaker Series. He also met with university officials and current McConnell scholars. 

On December 3-4, Secretary Pompeo joined the U.S. delegation led by President Trump to London to attend the NATO Leaders Meeting. The U.S. contingent highlighted the 70th anniversary of NATO; the progress of the United States and other Allies in improving burden sharing and promoting Transatlantic security and defense cooperation; as well as the work ahead to adapt the Alliance to address emerging security challenges. He also met with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the importance of developing secure 5G networks, working together on the challenges posed by Iran, and plans for a robust U.S.-U.K. Free Trade Agreement post-Brexit. 

Following the NATO Leaders Summit, Secretary Pompeo traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, December 4-5, where he met with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva. The Secretary also participated in a joint press availability with Foreign Minister Silva. The leaders reaffirmed the robust U.S.-Portugal relationship and discussed U.S.-Portuguese cooperation across a wide range of interests. While in Lisbon, the Secretary also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

On December 5, Secretary Pompeo traveled to Morocco to participate in a series of bilateral meetings with senior officials. While in Morocco, Secretary Pompeo met with Moroccan Head of Government Saadedine El Othmani, Moroccan Director General of National Security Abdellatif Hammouchi and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. 

State Department Launches Quick-Response Force Training and Competition in Senegal

On December 2, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and the government of Senegal announced the opening the SPEAR Summit Challenge, a five-day tactical law enforcement training and competition for U.S.-trained Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR) teams from across Africa.

On Uruguay’s Presidential Elections

In a December 2 press statement, Secretary Pompeo congratulated President-elect Luis Lacalle Pou and the people of Uruguay on holding successful Presidential elections on November 24.  

Secretary Pompeo Urges Europe To Put Security First As It Builds 5G Networks

In a December 2 op-ed, the Secretary urged European countries to put security first as they develop 5G networks. The Secretary said, “It’s urgent that trustworthy companies build these 21st-century information arteries. Specifically, it’s critical that European countries not give control of their critical infrastructure to Chinese tech giants like Huawei, or ZTE. 

State Department Hosts Special Briefing on Iraq

On December 2, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker delivered a special briefing on Iraq. The Assistant Secretary said, “the Iraqi people are calling for genuine reform and for trustworthy leaders that will put Iraq’s national interests first.”  Also on On December 2, a Senior State Department Official delivered a special briefing on the developing situation in Iraq. 

State Department Namibia on Elections

In a December 3 press statement, Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus congratulated the Republic of Namibia and its citizens on a successful and peaceful election, further strengthening Namibia’s vibrant democracy.  Since Namibia’s independence in 1990, the United States has supported the country’s democratic processes, institutions, and traditions. 

Secretary Pompeo International Day of Persons With Disabilities

In a December 3 press statement, Secretary Pompeo said “we recommit ourselves to upholding the rights, dignity, and inclusion of persons with disabilities at home and around the world. 

The U.S. Takes Action Against the Movement of Venezuelan Oil to Cuba

On December 3, the United States identified six PDVSA-owned vessels being used by the former Maduro regime to ship oil to Cuba. In addition, the Esperanza was identified as the new name for the vessel previously named the Nedas, which was blocked on April 12, 2019. These actions block the efforts by the Cuban and former Maduro regimes to evade sanctions that are intended to prevent the theft of Venezuela’s natural resources for corrupt purposes. 

Public Designation of former Guatemalan Minister Alejandro Sinibaldi

In a December 3 press statement, Secretary Pompeo designated former Guatemalan Minister of Communications, Infrastructure, and Housing Alejandro Sinibaldi due to his involvement in significant corruption. Mr. Sinibaldi engaged in and benefitted from public corruption in relation to his official duties and is now a fugitive from justice. 

U.S. Elevates Diplomatic Representation With Sudan

In a December 2 press statement, Sedcretary Pompeo welcomed Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to Washington during the Prime Minister's first visit. 


State Department Hosts Special Briefing in Advance of International Anticorruption Day

On December 4, Hugo Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Patrick Ventrell, Director of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ Office for Western Hemisphere Programs delivered remarks at a special briefing in advance of International Anticorruption Day, which is observed annually on December 9.

U.S. Commends European Union Action to Identify Risks to 5G Networks

In a December 4 press statement, Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus announced that the European Union Council identified serious risks posed to 5G telecommunications networks if they are built using untrusted vendors. Spokesperson Ortagus said, “We welcome this acknowledgement and urge our European partners and allies to ensure only trusted vendors participate in any part of their future 5G networks.”

U.S. and Kazakhstan Host Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue

On December 4, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells welcomed Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Ashikbayev for the U.S.-Kazakhstan Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue (ESPD). The ESPD was established two years ago to provide an annual forum designed to build trust and advance our common agenda across the full range of bilateral and regional issues.

State Department Holds Special Briefing on Iran

On December 5, Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the Secretary Brian Hook offered a special briefing on Iran. He discussed the atrocities the Iranian regime has committed against its people and called for the immediate release of all protesters detained in prison, as well as all the political prisoners currently held by the regime. 

State Department Program Offers Reward for Information on Russian Cybercriminal Maksim Yakubets

In a December 5 media note, the Department of State announced that its Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Russian cybercriminal Maksim Yakubets. Yakubets is wanted for his involvement with computer malware that infected tens of thousands of computers in both North America and Europe. 

U.S. Holds Inaugural Cyber Capacity Building Workshop with co-host Jamaica

In a December 5 media note, the United States announced the completion a three-day cyber capacity building workshop with participation from 12 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.In support of U.S.-Caribbean 2020, the workshop is the first of its kind in the region and designed to promote cybersecurity and combat cybercrime.  

Meetings with Global Leaders

On December 3, Secretary Pompeo spoke by phone with Afghanistan CEO Abdullah Abdullah

On December 4, Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale’s met with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Follow the State Department on Twitter and Facebook for additional information and updates.

Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.